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Men’s soccer ties to San Diego State, scores 1st goals in month of March

Freshman defender Tommy Silva scored the Bruins’ first goal in the month of March in the first half. He later recorded an assist to level the game at two goals apiece in the second half of UCLA men’s soccer’s tie with San Diego State. (Antonio Martinez/Daily Bruin)

Men's Soccer

San Diego State2

By Rafay Siddiqui

March 25, 2021 12:54 p.m.

For the second time this season, the Bruins and the Aztecs finished level.

UCLA men’s soccer (1-5-2, 0-4-2 Pac-12) rallied with two goals against San Diego State (0-4-2) in a 2-2, double-overtime draw Wednesday in San Diego, also scoring its first goals in the month of March. The Bruins previously tied 1-1 with the Aztecs in a Feb. 20 match at Wallis Annenberg Stadium.

With this game in the books, UCLA is now 22-4-9 against SDSU since October 2001.

By the 30-minute mark, midfielders Inigo Villaldea and Andre Ochoa had the Bruins buried in a two-goal deficit. Villaldea had found the back of the net in the third minute, right before freshman defender Tommy Silva was denied an equalizer in the fourth minute of action.

After six failed shot attempts by UCLA, Silva would answer back with his first career goal at the 39-minute mark – resulting in a 2-1 deficit at halftime for the blue and gold.

Silva said the team’s comfort with its playing style enabled for more offensive opportunities down the stretch.

“As a team, we’re becoming a lot stronger in the playing style we want to play, which is moving the ball side to side, breaking lines, getting people half turned, and playing passes in-behind,” Silva said. “Today was probably our best performance with that playing style so far, and that’s evident with the number of shots we had. It’s a reflection of everybody being on the same page and getting closer to the team we want to be.”

The Bruins’ offensive pressure continued in the second half, as the team attempted seven shots to the Aztecs’ one between the 45-minute and 76-minute marks. One such attempt came via a cross sent by sophomore defender Constantinos Michaelides to freshman forward Grayson Doody, whose header would ultimately graze over the bar.

Two minutes later, junior forward Kevin Diaz would convert his equalizing goal off an assist by Silva. Following Diaz’s first career goal, both teams would stay scoreless for the remainder of the match as neither side broke through in the two 10-minute golden goal overtime periods.

Recording three points in the match with a goal and an assist, Silva said activity in front of the goal, which led to Diaz’s equalizer, has been a point of emphasis.

“A big change has been working on our working mentality and being dangerous in the box,” Silva said. “That was something we really needed to improve. Going forward, we just need to continue that and continue to get balls in the back in the net. Tonight was definitely a step in the right direction.”

On the defensive end, junior goalkeeper Justin Garces maintained his production by piling up three saves – including a stop of Villaldea in the first overtime period. With this performance, Garces currently ranks tied for first in the Pac-12 conference for total saves with 25 and fifth in save percentage at .641.

While the Aztecs led going into the second period, the Bruins ultimately held a decisive advantage on the offensive end.

By the game’s end, UCLA notched 25 shot attempts against SDSU – a single-game record during coach Ryan Jorden’s tenure and the most in a match for the program since October 2013. The Bruins also held a 16-0 advantage in corner kicks by the end of second overtime.

Jorden said these statistics underscore the team’s development over time despite its inability to grab three points.

“We’ve shown a tremendous amount of progress since we played (San Diego) last time,” Jorden said. “I felt like we did enough to get a result in the fight back. I was proud of the effort the guys put in to get there. It leaves us wanting a little bit more based on the numbers that we put up.”

UCLA will have another chance to add its first conference victory of the season to the win column on March 28 against No. 9 Stanford.

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Rafay Siddiqui | Sports contributor
Siddiqui is currently a Sports contributor on the men's soccer beat.
Siddiqui is currently a Sports contributor on the men's soccer beat.
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